The New York Times reported Thursday that Salesforce is anxious that the deal could possibly prevent access to LinkedIn's trove of data about companies and their respective employees, while also giving Microsoft an unfair advantage over competitors.
Salesforce clearly doesn't want Microsoft to be part of its professional network anymore. Both companies were in a bidding war for LinkedIn earlier this year, but Microsoft won out.
This was expressed in more detail by Burke Norton, chief legal officer to Salesforce, in an interview with ZDNet.
The combative remarks hint at a renewed chill in the relationship between Salesforce and Microsoft.
Cloud computing company Salesforce is reportedly trying to block the $26.2 billion Microsoft-LinkedIn deal, arguing that Microsoft's acquisition of the enterprise social network LinkedIn will be anti-competitive.
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Observers, therefore, believe that Microsoft might no longer escape close scrutiny in the European Union as it had when it sailed through the bloc's merger investigations for its Nokia acquisition. This was confirmed by LinkedIn when it cited an email from Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings. However, Salesforce continued to submit bids after Microsoft and LinkedIn entered into an exclusive deal, according to those people and regulatory filings. Microsoft hasn't yet registered the deal with European Union authorities.
One year later, the two companies found themselves interested in the same target: LinkedIn.
Benioff himself has spoken publicly about being outbid - and has pointed out how much larger Microsoft is than his company.
He added that he can't win all the deals - and that's especially true "when you're going up against a Microsoft who has all the power and all the money and all the resources - and kind of that monopolistic control - you're at a disadvantage", he said. Salesforce wanted the data for its own CRM software - Salesforce's flagship product.
Since the LinkedIn contest, Salesforce has agreed to buy Quip, a word-processing startup that competes with Microsoft, and Microsoft sent out a release saying its customer-relations software had replaced Salesforce at HP. If Salesforce customers were somehow blocked from using LinkedIn, while Microsoft's CRM customers got access to it, that would badly hurt Salesforce's customers, and ultimately Salesforce.